In fact as they picked their way through the zigzag path away from the upper station she found it quite relaxing, though it was a bit cooler up on the summit than it was down in the city.
They stopped halfway and sat down on a bench. Through the trees she could see Juneau below them. All the brightly colored homes, and the cruise ships that seemed like toys in the Gastineau Channel.
She sighed. “This is great.”
“Got your footing back?” he teased again.
She elbowed him. “Yes. Thanks for bringing me up here.”
“No problem. I haven’t been up here in a long time. Usually I come by myself, because I have time to kill after dropping Mo off, waiting to catch the ferry back to Wolf’s Harbor the next day. Sometimes I take a couple days off to myself and spend it in Juneau before I go back. A little mini-vacation.”
“Your family is still in Chicago?”
“My mom is. My dad passed away two years ago.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t move back to Chicago.”
Derek shrugged. “Well, I love it here, and Mo needs her grandparents.”
“What about her grandma in Chicago?”
She didn’t want Mo not to have contact with her loved ones—especially the ones who wanted her and made an effort to stay in her life.
“My mom is coming up next month to spend several months with me, and I have siblings in Chicago and they have kids. Mo is getting old enough that if I can get another general practitioner up here we can go back home for Christmas or something. Mom would like that.”
“I hope you find someone. I wish I could help.”
Derek nodded solemnly. “Yeah, I know. But you don’t know where you’ll end up.”
“I have offers in Seattle and at the Mayo. Even in Boston. All good offers.”
“So why haven’t you taken one of them?” he asked.
“I’m helping out a friend.”
Those gray-green eyes narrowed in disbelief. “I think it’s more than that.”
“Pardon?” she asked, annoyed.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I didn’t think it was a touchy subject.”
She didn’t respond to that. She didn’t tell him that it was indeed a touchy subject and she didn’t feel like discussing it right now.
“It’s not. I’m helping out a friend. If I wasn’t, I would’ve left the moment she said Wolf’s Harbor.”
“Um…didn’t you find out after the fact? Like after she left?”
“Details, details.” Evelyn smiled. “Come on. Show me this alpine meadow before we have to catch our tram back down to meet with this John.”
She didn’t want to talk anymore. She didn’t want to talk about why she was there, seeking acceptance of the never-ending guilt over her father’s death. It wasn’t his business. He was just her colleague. Nothing more.
She had to remember that and protect herself.
Even if she wanted more.
* * *
Derek had a shower and changed his clothes into business casual for their meeting with John. When he’d called John his friend had been wary at first, thinking that Derek was going to bombard him with questions and talk about a hospital for Wolf’s Harbor, but once Derek had name-dropped Dr. Evelyn Saunders, John had taken notice. He’d heard of her.
“Derek, how the heck did you land Dr. Evelyn Saunders in Wolf’s Harbor?”
“She’s covering for a friend.”
“She’s a hot commodity. What I wouldn’t give to bring her on board at Juneau General, but the board wouldn’t pay enough to keep her happy here.”
“Well, she needs to run some tests on a patient…”
“She can use our facilities. Of course. When is she planning on coming to Juneau?”
“I’m bringing her Saturday.”
“Great. We’ll have dinner Saturday night at Langstrom’s.”
Derek had the distinct feeling that he was going to be a third wheel in this situation, but he was okay with that. This was about helping Jennifer and Joe’s baby.
He waited in the lounge for Evelyn and glanced at his watch.
The elevator dinged and she walked off.
Derek had to take a step back.
He hadn’t seen her dressed up before. Her dark auburn hair was swept up off her neck and a tight black shift dress clung to her curves. High heels accented her legs and her rear, and he couldn’t help but tilt his head just so in order to check her out.
And although he was glad he had, as his temperature rose, suddenly he didn’t feel like having dinner with a colleague. He wanted to keep her all to himself.
Hey! Get a hold of yourself.
“You look handsome,” Evelyn said.