Evelyn cursed under her breath. She had to stop thinking about this place as her home. This was not her home. It hadn’t been for some time.
Still, it was hard not to think of those days. And all the time that had been taken away from her.
And whose fault was that?
“Who are you?” a harsh voice demanded.
Evelyn spun round and was taken aback by the sight of the most handsome man she’d ever seen. She felt a bit stunned, and all she could do was stare at him in awe. He was tall, broad-shouldered. He wore a flannel shirt stretched a little tight over his strong, muscular upper arms. His dark hair was close-cropped and his skin was a warm, deep tawny brown. He had a neatly kept beard. But it was his eyes, a green-gray-blue, which were really stunning. Clear, bright—and focused on her.
They held her rooted to the spot.
“You’re not supposed to be in here,” he growled.
“Are you Dr. Pearson?” she asked, finally finding her voice.
His eyes narrowed. “No. He’s gone back to Juneau.”
“What?” Evelyn frowned. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
* * *
Derek had been in the back. He had been waiting for the new doctor to arrive, annoyed that Dr. Pearson had left for Juneau early and saddled him with the new OB/GYN when he had a full caseload as general practitioner to handle.
He hadn’t left for a bigger city even though he could have.
His mother had begged him to return to Chicago when Vivian died. She’d even offered to retire from her catering business to help him raise his daughter, but he couldn’t leave Alaska.
He might have been born in Chicago but, like his parents—one of whom came from Haiti and one from the Ukraine—he needed to forge his own path. Put down his own roots. And Wolf’s Harbor had been the place to do that.
He loved it here. Loved the people. Loved his life.
Even though as a widower it was slightly lonely.
Whose fault is that?
It had been his choice to be alone after his wife had died from a uterine rupture when their daughter was born. His life was his practice and his daughter.
Still, he was annoyed that he had to deal with these rotating doctors. Doctors who came in and left him with more work in the end. Doctors who saw the patients of Wolf’s Harbor as an inconvenience. He was tired of the extra burden, but he’d gladly bear it for his patients.
Dr. Pearson had left him high and dry by leaving before the new OB/GYN showed up, and Mo was still getting over a bug she’d picked up, so he had to relieve the sitter. He would be glad when school started again. He had no time to deal with another rotation doctor and Dr. Pearson had just dumped this one in his lap.
So like Dr. Pearson. So like all these doctors who came through the town, never staying longer than they had too. Never willing to help him out or put in a good word to get a hospital built in town. These big city doctors were all selfish—if it wouldn’t further their career they didn’t lend a hand.
Okay, you’re sounding like a curmudgeon now.
He stuck it out all year in this isolated community, while these specialists fluttered in and out, never staying long enough to get to know the people. There was no real trust between these doctors and the patients. It was a dangerous thing.
He tried not to think about how the lack of a specialist during one of these rotations had cost him everything. How his late wife had hemorrhaged and bled out before they could get her on an air ambulance to Sitka. And the fact that it had happened during a storm that had grounded all the planes had made it so much worse. There had been nothing he could do. But if there had been a hospital here in Wolf’s Harbor maybe she would have had a fighting chance.
He focused on this fiery, auburn-haired woman, who thought it was okay just to waltz into his closed office. He’d been taken back by the beautiful, tall, polished woman who was now standing in his exam room. So like Dr. Pearson to have his girlfriends and paramours just show up unannounced.
Although he was a bit jealous that this one was one of Dr. Pearson’s girlfriends…
He’d seen many of them go through this clinic when Dr. Pearson had been here on rotation, but this one—this one actually made him jealous of Dr. Pearson.
It had been a long time since he’d been attracted to someone. If he didn’t have Mo, or the practice to run—if he was the same man he had been before he’d come to Wolf’s Harbor—he would pursue a woman just like this.
You’re lonely. Face it.
“Pearson has gone back to Juneau,” Derek said again, and moved from the doorway to encourage her to leave. “Sorry for your trouble. I can call you a cab…”
“I’m the new OB/GYN. I’m Dr. Saunders.”