A lump formed in Evelyn’s throat. She was leaving everything she knew, everything she loved, to live with a stranger.
Uncle Yazzie scrubbed a hand over his face. “Don’t worry. We’ll see each other again soon.”
Evelyn nodded and tried to fight back the tears as she walked away from the only family she’d known.
She would never forgive herself for not stopping her father from going out that night to see Jocelyn—the woman he’d wanted to marry. If she’d stopped him he’d still be alive…
“Ladies and gents, we’re now making our descent into Wolf’s Harbor. Please fasten your seatbelt.”
The pilot made the same announcement in Tlingit and Evelyn felt sad that she’d almost forgotten her mother’s language. She understood it still, but when was the last time she’d spoken it?
Evelyn couldn’t remember. Her grandmother had banned all talk of Alaska and anything of her past because it had been too painful for her, and Evelyn hadn’t wanted to make her grandmother upset. Her grandmother had blamed Alaska for taking her son away, for her having had to disinherit him. Alaska had ruined her father’s promising surgical career.
Evelyn had still loved Alaska, but had said nothing to her grandmother about her love for her former home. She had always been worried her grandmother would send her away, so she’d just tried to please the woman.
She hadn’t wanted to be alone. She hadn’t wanted to be sent away again.
That trip to Boston… She’d known then what alone felt like. It had been terrible, and she’d never wanted to feel that way again.
Except now you are alone!
And it was her fault again this time.
She’d been with Nathan for two years, but her career had always been more important to her. Nathan had a great surgical practice in Minnesota, and he wanted to settle down and get married. Only that was the last thing that Evelyn wanted.
She didn’t want a family. One that could be taken away from her in an instant. One she didn’t deserve.
There was a part of her that should have felt sorrow over losing Nathan, but she felt numb and a little bit relieved.
He’d accused her once of being cold. And maybe she was.
Of course being cold meant that you kept your heart intact. Not feeling was her armor. Her protection against pain. Her grandmother had taught her to guard her heart in order to avoid pain. Emotions were for the weak. And it served her well as a surgeon.
She took a deep breath and looked out through the small window to see Wolf’s Harbor come into view through the misty summer rain that was clinging to the mountains.
Her heart skipped a beat and her palms were sweaty, but she wasn’t sure if that was from the turbulence or from seeing the place where she’d been born. A place she’d never thought she’d see again.
The sight of the boats moored at the town dock and even the vessels that were out on the eerily calm water made her stomach flip in anticipation. It was just as beautiful as she remembered.
For the first year of her life in Boston she’d dreamed about Wolf’s Harbor, dreamed about her father, and then what she remembered had begun to fade as she’d integrated into life in Boston.
Her grandmother had been distant and mourning her son’s decision to head to Alaska, and her grandmother’s grief and bitterness had seeped into their life in Boston. So they’d traveled a lot. Boston had been their home base, but she had always felt her grandmother had traveled so she wouldn’t have a moment to grieve for her son. Boston might have been a base, but it had never felt like home.
She’d excelled in school, to please her grandmother, and had gone to Dartmouth and then Harvard Medical School. During her last year at Harvard her grandmother had died, but Evelyn’s time there had seemed to please her. The more Evelyn had excelled, the more her grandmother had seemed happy with her.
She’d done her residency in Seattle, and earned a fellowship in obstetrics and neonatal medicine. She’d been searching for a new challenge when she’d been contacted by a surgeon friend in Sitka, who had begged her to come and take over her practice while she went on a three-month honeymoon.
Evelyn had thought it would be good—she just hadn’t had any idea that part of the practice was a rotation in Wolf’s Harbor that her friend shared with a couple other OB/GYNs and that she worked there every three months. And the day Evelyn had landed in Sitka had been the day she was to start her three-month rotation in Wolf’s Harbor.
At first she’d thought of not going, of letting her friend down, but she longed to see Wolf’s Harbor again. To help where she hadn’t been able to help before.