“What about them? They got along fine without me for twenty years.”
“That’s because your grandmother blocked them.”
“My grandmother was grieving for her son.”
“Evelyn, Wolf’s Harbor needs you. I—” Only he couldn’t finish that sentence. He couldn’t finish what he wanted to say.
What about me? What about Mo?
“I can’t stay. I can’t deal with this. It’s twenty years too late to mourn. I’ve got a good life and I have to put this place behind me. I can’t…”
“You’re afraid. You couldn’t settle down with a man you’d been with for two years and you can’t take a chance with your heart now.”
“I’ll ruin your life if I stay. I’m too hardened. I don’t have the room or the capacity,” she said stonily.
“You improved my life. You lit up this town. You have to stay.”
“What’s two more months going to do? Nothing will change.”
The question caught him off guard and he realized that she’d never been going to stay. She’d never planned on staying.
“I knew it was a mistake. I knew it was a mistake getting close to you. I told myself that you weren’t going to stay. You temporary doctors create more problems than you fix, coming through here.”
“There was always a time limit on this, Derek. I can’t stay any longer. Besides, if Mo changed her mind about sharing her father… Don’t do what my father did to me. Don’t do that to Mo.”
Derek couldn’t look at her. His heart was breaking but he couldn’t figure out why. How could a heart love two people at once?
“Well,” he said calmly, “you better get packed up. I’ll check on your half sister.”
“She’s not my family, Derek. I lost my family a long time ago.”
“No, you didn’t lose them. They’re right here. You’re just too scared to find them again.”
Evelyn’s gaze narrowed. “I’m not the only one scared here, Derek. You’re just as afraid of forgiveness as I am. You can’t forgive yourself for Vivian, just like me and my father’s death.”
He stepped to the side and let her leave.
She slammed the door behind her and Derek kicked the wall.
* * *
Uncle Yazzie drove her to the airport. He’d been surprised when she called, but he’d come just the same.
He didn’t say anything to her as he drove her away from the clinic.
As she looked back at the clinic through the window she realized that she was tired of running, but she’d ruined more lives here than she’d saved.
That’s not true.
Derek’s words about her lighting up Wolf’s Harbor resonated with her.
She was so hardened, like her grandmother. Her grandmother had been miserable and bitter all the years Evelyn had known her. But she could’ve been happy had she just accepted Thorne’s life in Alaska. Her grandmother had deprived herself of happiness and Evelyn was doing the same.
She stared down at the box and the card on her lap that Uncle Yazzie had given to her from Le´elk’w. Evelyn couldn’t bring herself to open it.
“Are you sure about this, Evie?” Uncle Yazzie asked from the front seat.
“This is your home.” He parked the cab and turned around. “Don’t leave. Stay. This is where you belong.”
“I don’t belong here, Uncle Yazzie. I did once, but…” There were so many pieces of her life that were missing. So much she’d missed out on. So much she’d lost.
She’d hardened her heart for so long that she wasn’t sure that she could go back.
“I think I’m going to take a job I’ve been offered in Seattle. I’ll come to visit,” Evelyn said, but they both knew that was a lie.
“You don’t think that you fit in here, but you do, Evie. I just wish you could see that.” He climbed out of the cab and went to the trunk to get her bags.
Evelyn slipped out of the cab and took the bags from him. He hugged her and Evelyn closed her eyes, fighting tears.
Keep it together. Don’t cry.
She turned and walked across the road to the airport. She looked back once, to see Uncle Yazzie standing there, just as he had all those years ago, waving after her sadly. The pain, the terror she’d felt walking into the unknown washed over her again. The loss of her family.
She tore her gaze away and headed into the airport. There were a few other passengers waiting for the plane to Sitka. Evelyn checked in and then found a spot in the farthest corner of the airport. She stared down at the box and the card from Le´elk’w.