Maybe if you did you wouldn’t be so afraid of settling down and having a family.
She was going to say something to respond to that, but the door chimed and Derek walked in, carrying two coffees.
“Dr. Taylor,” Le´elk’w said stiffly which caused Evelyn to raise an eyebrow in question.
“Katlian, good to see you.”
“Liar,” Le´elk’w muttered, but there was a twinkle in the old woman’s eyes.
Evelyn shook her head and Derek set a coffee in front of her. “For you.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.”
“I felt bad that you were avoiding Sally’s because of possibly running into me,” he said.
Evelyn was going to respond, but she saw that Le´elk’w was craning her neck, trying to listen. And she couldn’t help but laugh.
“Thanks,” Evelyn said. “I was just in a rush. I wanted to look over my charts for the day. Janet is back as well.”
Derek nodded, understanding that she didn’t want to talk about last night in front of Le´elk’w. “Good. Well, I’d better start my day.”
He lingered, as if he wanted to say something more, but then looked over his shoulder at Le´elk’w and walked into his room.
Evelyn made sure that he’d closed his door before she turned back to Le´elk’w. “You chased him off.”
Le´elk’w snorted. “He doesn’t like me much, but he’s a good doctor.”
“Why do you give him a hard time, then?”
“I give all doctors a hard time.” Le´elk’w fixed her with a serious gaze, but there was a twinkle in her eyes. “I gave your father a hard time at first.”
“I see.” Evelyn ignored that, trying not to think of her father, and picked up Jennifer’s chart just as Jennifer and Joe Jr. came into the clinic.
“Dr. Saunders! No laboring women today?” Jennifer teased good-naturedly.
Evelyn smiled. “Not today. I’m all yours.”
“Le´elk’w, I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” Jennifer said in surprise.
“I am here, and you will give Dr. Saunders permission to speak with me, yes?”
“Of course,” Jennifer said, and then turned to Evelyn. “It’s okay if Le´elk’w knows about my file.”
“Okay, but I’ll only discuss your file with her in front of you. I’m bound by rules of doctor-patient confidentiality.”
Jennifer winked and Evelyn saw Joe Jr. was trying not to laugh.
“Okay, let’s get you to the exam room. I want to take another look at your baby and see how he or she is growing.”
“Sounds good!” Jennifer said excitedly as she got up and walked toward Evelyn.
They knew where they were going, and Janet was waiting for them in the exam room that held the ultrasound.
As Le´elk’w passed Evelyn she squeezed her shoulder.
Evelyn took a deep breath.
You can do this. This is no different from any other patient with intrauterine growth restriction. This isn’t your family.
Only it was. This was her cousin’s wife.
This was technically her family, but solely by genetics.
Evelyn had been on her own too long.
She didn’t have family. She just had herself.
And that was all she deserved.
* * *
Derek had wanted to get to work early so as to avoid Evelyn, but then he’d run smack-dab into her. He felt like a fool, thinking that perhaps he’d led her on and now she’d be clingy, but of course she wasn’t. She was trying to avoid him just as much as he’d been trying to avoid her.
Even though he should be relieved he was quite upset by that, because he wanted her. He didn’t want Evelyn to have to avoid him or vice versa.
He wanted more and that thought scared him.
What is wrong with you? Isn’t that what you wanted?
Except maybe it wasn’t.
When they’d collided this morning he’d been glad to see her, his body instantly reacting to her.
When he was younger and had felt that way he would usually sleep with the woman to work her out of his system. Then he’d met Vivian and those roguish ways of his youth had disappeared. Vivian had been the only one for him.
Yeah, and she’s dead. She’s been gone for five years.
Derek groaned and scrubbed a hand over his face. He’d sworn when Vivian had died and torn open his heart that he would never allow himself ever to think of another woman that way again. Yet here he was, doing just the opposite. What was wrong with him?
Well, whatever was going on with him he had to get control of it.
There was a knock at his office door.
“Come,” he said, regaining his composure.
Evelyn opened the door. That glorious dark auburn hair that was just as soft as he’d imagined it to be was tied back.