Monica smiled. “I’m Monica, but you can call me Mo.”
Evelyn smiled at her. “Well, Mo, can I take a look at your head?”
Mo looked at her father, unsure.
“It’s okay. Dr. Saunders is nice.”
“Evie, Daddy,” Mo corrected.
“Oh, I don’t let him call me Evie. He’s too grumpy,” Evelyn teased, and Mo’s eyes twinkled and she laughed.
Derek smiled tenderly at his daughter, but didn’t look at her.
“How old are you, Mo?” Evelyn asked.
“Five—well, I just turned five.”
“It was your birthday recently?”
“In March,” Derek said. “Not that recent.”
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Evelyn teased.
Mo laughed, and then winced.
“Can I look at your head?”
Mo still looked uncertain, but Derek gently prompted her and Evelyn was able to remove the gauze from her head.
“Ouch—you’re being super-brave, Mo.”
Evelyn brought over a suture kit and Mo eyed it with worry.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“This is going to fix that nasty cut on your head and make you feel a lot better.” Evelyn got some numbing agent out. “In fact, looking at it, I don’t even think I’ll have to stitch that. I think we can get away with cleaning and some paper sutures—which is a fancy word for a plaster.”
“Really?” Mo asked.
Evelyn nodded. “Yep.”
“Edna said I would have to get stitches cause it bled so much. I got blood on my blankie.” Mo held up a ratty old crocheted afghan.
“Who made that for you?” Evelyn asked.
“I’m sure your mommy can clean it for you.”
“Mommy is dead.”
She saw Derek stiffen and she looked up at him quickly. Now she understood. All the pain in his eyes was the same pain that she’d seen in her father’s.
Evelyn’s heart melted even more. Sure, Derek was sexy, and she was highly attracted to him physically, but this was something more. This was something far more dangerous. She felt sorry for him handling this alone.
She remembered all those times she’d snuck downstairs and caught her father crying, mourning her mother. She knew the keen sense of loneliness he’d felt.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Evelyn said gently. “How about your daddy? He can clean it for you, right?”
Mo nodded. “He can.”
“That’s good. He’ll get it all cleaned up and you’ll forget that this even happened.” Evelyn pulled out the antibacterial cleaner and some gauze.
“Will this hurt?” Mo asked.
“A little bit,” Evelyn said. “But if we get this cleaned out and fixed up then it won’t hurt later and it will heal right up. Kids have an amazing super-power.”
“They heal super-fast.” Evelyn smiled. “If I’d cut my head that bad I would probably need stitches, and it wouldn’t heal as fast as your cut will heal. Plus, I think this would be an awesome opportunity to get some ice cream out of your dad.”
Mo’s eyes lit up. “Okay!”
“Thanks.” Derek chuckled.
Evelyn grinned. “Can you lie back for me? I’ll get that cleaned out. It’s going to sting a little bit, but it’ll be over with soon—I promise.”
Mo lay down and closed her eyes as Evelyn began.
“Why did it bleed so much, Evie?” Mo asked.
“Your head always bleeds a lot because there are tons of blood vessels in your scalp that are close to the surface—so when you get a cut it bleeds a lot.”
Evelyn finished cleaning the wound and then placed Steri-strips over the wound and a bandage.
“There—all done, and you were incredibly brave.”
Evelyn helped her sit up. Mo’s little hand slipped into hers, and in the little girl so attached to her father Evelyn saw herself.
She had once been Mo.
The only difference was that she’d remembered bits and pieces about her mother, and she’d had her mother’s extended family reminding her of who her mother was.
“You can take her home now,” Evelyn said to Derek. “You know the drill. I can manage closing up the clinic.”
“Thank you, Evelyn.” Derek scooped up his daughter, but didn’t look at her.
“Thanks, Evie,” Mo chirped. “Daddy, can Evie come over for dinner? Evie, do you want to come over for dinner?”
Evelyn was taken aback by the sweet, heartfelt invitation. But Derek’s eyes were wide as he tried to come up with an excuse and she knew that she couldn’t intrude on their dinner. Derek was clearly uncomfortable, and now she understood. He had a daughter to protect.