EVELYN BREATHED A sigh of relief as she watched the air ambulance take off. Christina was stable, and that bleeding might have been the result of anything. It might have been a tear, or a clot, but Evelyn didn’t have the means to examine it herself. There was no anesthesiologist on hand. Derek had stocked blood in his clinic, but not enough to do a surgical repair. It was better that the Sitka hospital take care of it. There were more people in Sitka. There were more supplies and specialized instruments that weren’t here.
At least Christina was still awake… She must remember to praise Derek later for having that small stock of universal blood on hand. If there hadn’t been any it might have been disastrous. Derek’s smart thinking in stocking the clinic had probably saved Christina’s life.
“Need a lift, Dr. Saunders?”
Evelyn turned to see Joe Yazzie Jr. sitting in the airport.
“I would like that—but I have to confess I left my purse at the clinic.”
Joe chuckled. “It’s on me. Family and everything.”
Evelyn’s heart skipped a beat. “I guess you’re right. We’re cousins, I suppose.”
Joe scratched his head. “Yeah, no ‘suppose’ about it. We are. That’s what Le´elk’w and my father say. It’s nice to meet you, cousin.”
Evelyn felt like she’d been sucker-punched. “Did you say Le´elk’w? Is she still…?”
Joe beamed. “Alive? Yeah, Le´elk’w is still alive and kicking. I don’t know if she knows you’re back in town. Dad hasn’t gotten around to seeing her since he ran into you last night.”
There were so many emotions that were swirling around inside Evelyn. Her maternal grandmother was still alive? She’d thought she’d died. In fact she’d been led to believe that she’d died. Evelyn had mourned her so long ago, but Le´elk’w was still alive.
She felt angry for all the time that had gone by.
All the time she’d missed.
And whose fault was that?
She’d written so many letters and never heard back. After a time Evelyn had felt as if Le´elk’w must have forgotten her, and as more time went on she assumed that Le´elk’w had died.
How had anyone thought that was the best thing for her? How was being separated from you family and not knowing about them better? How was Boston better than Wolf’s Harbor and not vice versa?
No one had ever taken into account her feelings. No one had ever asked her what she wanted.
Because you didn’t deserve it. Your father didn’t get what he wanted so why should you?
She really hated that voice inside her. That internal dialogue that never let her forgive, never let her forget what happened.
“You okay, Dr. Saunders?” Joe Jr. asked.
Evelyn nodded and plastered a brave smile on her face. “Yeah, I’m great—and you know what, Joe? You might as well call me Evelyn. We’re cousins, after all.”
Joe grinned. “Okay.”
Evelyn climbed into his cab and he whisked her back to the clinic.
“Will I see you later with Jennifer?”
“Jennifer couldn’t get time off for the afternoon, but we’re coming tomorrow first thing.”
Evelyn nodded. “Good. I look forward to seeing you both.”
Joe parked the cab out front. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”
She got out and walked back into the clinic. Nancy looked up from the reception desk.
“I tried to get Jennifer Yazzie in…”
“It’s okay, Nancy. I spoke with her husband and I know she couldn’t get the time off. I’ll see her tomorrow.”
“I’m headed home. Dr. Taylor hasn’t rescheduled his appointments. He said to take the rest of the day off.”
Evelyn frowned. “But there’s still time left.”
“Well, he’ll stay here in case there’s an emergency, but no regular patients. Do you need me to stay, Dr. Saunders?”
“No, it’s fine, Nancy. If Dr. Taylor gave you the rest of the day off, go. It’s been one heck of a first day for me, anyways. Thanks for your help.”
Nancy smiled. “See you tomorrow, Dr. Saunders.”
Evelyn walked back to the exam room, to clean up the mess, and walked in on Derek, mopping the floor. He glanced up as if only just noticing her.
“Need help?” she asked.
“Nope—I got it,” he said, not looking up at her. He seemed sad, distant, and she hoped he wasn’t mad at her for not cleaning up right away.
“I was coming back to clean.” Evelyn grabbed another mop.
“Don’t worry about it.” Derek sighed. “I’ve got it mostly cleaned up. But, honestly, a mess like that shouldn’t be left.”
“And was I supposed to stop trying to save Christina’s life and clean the floor?”
Derek rubbed his temple. “No, you’re right. Sorry.”
“Nothing. Just concerned about my patient.”
“She’ll be fine. I wanted to congratulate you for having universal blood on hand. That probably saved her life.”
“Thanks, but it was you too. Your skills which saved her life.”
She helped with the mopping, then glanced up at him. “You’re really connected to the people in this town, aren’t you?”