“He was here for three months, but Jennifer is getting close to term now, so how many other people didn’t see it. Now you understand why I’m mad that I’m the only one who stays. This constant rotation of doctors is not good for the people here. Sometimes it does more harm than good. And we need a hospital. Even if it’s small. We need a hospital with regular staff so that when situations like what happened to Christina or Mo arise then they can be taken care of right away. I’ve been fighting for years to make it happen, but money is tight.”
She nodded. “A hospital would be great, but it wouldn’t have saved my father’s life.”
“What happened to your father?” he asked. “I know that he passed, but no one has told me how.”
“He was walking through town to…” She trailed off. “To visit someone and it was foggy. A logging truck that was speeding came through the fog and my father was hit. He was killed instantly. There was nothing to be done. Even if there had been a hospital the damage was too great. No doctor could’ve saved him.”
Derek could see the hint of tears in her eyes, but there was something else there. Something she was not telling him. Just as he wasn’t telling her the whole truth. How he’d redone the kitchen because that was where Vivian had died and he didn’t want to see the wooden floors that were stained after her death. He wanted no part of that room to remind him that she’d collapsed there. That she’d died there.
“I’m sorry, Evelyn. I’m sorry that happened to you.”
She smiled. “I’m sorry about your wife. And I’m sorry that I’m only here for a short time, just like everyone else.”
Their gazes locked and in her eyes he could see pain just like his pain, reflected back at him. They had so much in common when it came to that, but he also felt something else and his pulse kicked up a notch.
His gaze turned to her pink full lips, the flood of color that was in her smooth tan cheeks and her long slender neck. He had the urge to reach out and touch her. To kiss those lips and feel the silkiness of her long red hair.
It shocked him, but also thrilled him that he was feeling this way.
Get a hold of yourself.
“I’m glad you were there today.” He looked away. “For both Christina and Mo.”
“Thank you. I’m glad I was there too.” She looked down at her empty wineglass.
Tension hung in the air, electric and crackling. How long had it been since he’d felt this way? It had been too long. He’d forgotten what it was like. He’d forgotten what it was like to feel so alive.
He looked back at her. “I’m sorry I get so possessive over my patients and my home. Even though I wasn’t born here, Wolf’s Harbor is my home.”
“I understand,” she whispered. “That this is your home.”
“Isn’t this your home?” he asked.
“No,” she whispered. “It hasn’t been my home for some time.”
He wanted to tell her it could be. Because they needed her medical skill.
He didn’t want her to stay for any other reason.
He had to put some physical distance between them before he did something he would regret.
Would you regret it?
“Would you like another…?” He leaned forward, but he was gripping the glass too tight and it shattered and cut his hand. “Dammit!”
He got up and ran to the kitchen to inspect the damage.
Evelyn followed him. “Let me see.”
“It’s fine. It’s small and superficial.”
“Let me see,” she repeated, taking his hand.
Her touch sent a shiver through him. Her skin was soft, but her grip firm. A surgeon’s hand. Delicate, long fingers. They were hands that had been taken care of.
“See,” he murmured. “Superficial.”
“Not even a shard of glass in there.”
She looked up at him. They were close and he could see how long her lashes really were.
Evelyn cleared her throat. “Do you have a first aid kit?”
“Yeah, in the powder room over there—under the sink.”
She disappeared and Derek took a deep breath. He had to get control. He was made of stronger stuff than this.
She returned with the kit and opened it, pulling out gauze and ointment. She bent over his hand and went to work. He could smell the scent of her shampoo. It was coconut. It reminded him of summer. Hot summers with his friends on the beaches of Lake Michigan, swimming and trying not to get too burnt.
“There,” she said, wrapping his hand because the cut was on his palm. “You had some Steri-strips, so I put a couple on just to make it easier on you.”