She was still pretty wound for sound when the ferry docked at Jordan Springs, just outside of Juneau, but by the time they got back down to Derek’s car and Mo was settled into her booster seat she was out cold again.
“Your car is like a sleeping pill for this kid,” Evelyn mentioned as she set Mo’s bag in the trunk while Derek got her belted in.
Evelyn slipped into the passenger side and Derek got behind the wheel as they waited for the ferry to open and let them out. “She’s always been a good sleeper. Of course letting her sleep this much means that she’s probably not going to sleep well for my in-laws.” He grinned.
“That’s very devious, Dr. Taylor.”
He chuckled. “They’re nice people, but they were very strict with Vivian. At least they’re a bit more relaxed with Mo, and Mo loves them both to death.”
Evelyn smiled as she gazed at Mo. Her curly light brown hair fanned her round cheeks, and her lips were parted as she breathed in her sleep.
“She’s a great kid.”
Derek beamed proudly. “Thanks. I’m going to miss her while she’s gone.”
“She goes every other month?”
“In the summer. In the winter it’s harder, and my in-laws usually go down south for the winter. I don’t know how many more years they’re going to be able to do this, or even if they’ll stay in Alaska, so I want Mo to have as much time with them as possible. It’s a connection to her mother.”
Evelyn nodded sadly. “That’s important. I had Le´elk’w to remind me of my mother. I didn’t even know about my father’s mother until he passed and she gained custody of me.”
“And she didn’t let you keep in contact with your family up here?”
Evelyn sighed. “No, apparently not, according to Uncle Yazzie. And Grandma told me that they didn’t want anything to do with me.”
What she didn’t say was that she’d thought they didn’t want her because of her father’s death. She’d taken away Wolf’s Harbor’s only doctor. Everyone had loved her dad. Now she wasn’t sure that it was true. Still, it was hard to forgive herself…which was why she was here in Wolf’s Harbor. To seek forgiveness.
The child in her had believed that they hadn’t written. The adult knew they had. Her grandmother’s hardened heart toward anything connected with her father’s death meant she’d probably hidden the letters from her. Her grandmother had been so determined not to be reminded of her son in any way, Evelyn was surprised she’d tolerated her presence.
Derek started the engine and slowly drove out of the ferry. “She actually told you that?”
“Well, she put it politely. I wrote letters to Le´elk’w and I guess they were never sent—and of course I never received any letters. It hurt then, but now I understand. There were legal battles fought and lost. And after a time I forgot it all. Forgot about Wolf’s Harbor and them.”
She wasn’t sure that she had.
“You didn’t forget. You just buried it deep down. I get that.”
They shared a look, but then Evelyn broke the gaze to look out the window as they drove down the gangway and onto land. Once they were out of the ferry terminal they turned onto the Glacier Highway and headed toward Juneau.
Mo was snoring gently in the back.
“You know, Le´elk’w told me I had built up walls,” Evelyn remarked.
“I think we all have our own set of walls,” Derek said offhandedly.
“You have walls?”
He gave her a look and she laughed at the absurdity of the comment. Of course Derek had walls. She could see them as she peered over from behind her own walls. Walls were for protection. They guarded the heart.
“I have Mo to protect, and my practice. It makes it easier to deal with the stress of it all.”
“Yeah.” Walls were good for that too.
“So why do you think your grandmother wanted to cut you off from Wolf’s Harbor?” he asked absently.
“My grandmother hated Alaska. Hated that it took her son away, wrecked all her plans for him. The life she wanted for him. She was grieving, I suppose, in the only way she knew how. Talking about Alaska or Dad was frowned on. She only talked about my father when she expressed her disappointment in his life choices.”
“Not fair to you.”
Evelyn shrugged. “I know, but I get it. I get her grief.”
“Grieving I get,” Derek said. “Still, it must’ve been hard for you, not being able to talk about your family. Do you know much about your mother’s family?”
“I don’t remember much. Except one thing.” She chuckled.