It was so much easier on his heart this way. Better for Mo too. He didn’t want her to get hurt. He’d promised Vivian he’d protect Mo. So he planned to treat Evelyn like every other physician who passed through Wolf’s Harbor on rotation. Even if she was easy on the eye and had a spirited personality—the kind which always drew him in when it came to members of the opposite sex…
He was a professional above all else. His patients came first. And even though he knew nothing about her—even though training a new doctor about the ins and outs of Wolf’s Harbor Medical would be an extra burden on him—he’d gladly do it.
Unlike all the other doctors who came and went, he was here for the long haul.
HE’S A BIT cool and stand-offish.
Evelyn waited outside with her rolling suitcase as Dr. Taylor—Derek—locked up the clinic. It was beginning to drizzle and it was dusk, but since it was summer it would stay light pretty late.
She glanced at her watch and remembered she hadn’t switched it over to Alaska daylight time.
Derek whistled. “That’s some fancy watch you have there!”
Heat bloomed in her cheeks, because she’d caught the undertone of his sarcasm. Yeah it was flashy and out of place here, but he didn’t have to point it out. “It was my grandmother’s. She left it to me when she passed.”
His expression softened. “Sorry.”
“She had a good life. She was ninety-nine when I lost her to cancer. I miss her—she was the only family I had.”
No, she wasn’t, a little whisper said in her mind, but she ignored it. She knew now that Uncle Yazzie was still around, but Le´elk’w probably wasn’t. Still, she’d been gone for twenty years and had had no contact with any of them. It was apparent that they hadn’t thought of her. Joe Jr. hadn’t even blinked an eye when she’d told him her last name.
So she had no family left. Not really.
“I understand,” he muttered, but then shook his head as if he felt bad about what he’d said. “Look, let’s get out of this drizzle before it turns to full-out rain.”
“That’s fine with me. Is the apartment far?”
“Nope.” Derek shoved his hands in his hoodie and headed up an alleyway behind the clinic.
Evelyn rolled her eyes and followed him. It wasn’t really an alleyway after all, but a steep slope up to a set of wooden stairs that were at the back of the clinic.
“This is the place,” Derek said. “There’s no connection to the clinic on the inside, however.”
“Great—well, at least it’s summer.” Evelyn would hate to climb those open wooden steps to the second floor in the winter. She wouldn’t be here then.
A shudder ran down her spine as she thought of those cold Alaska nights. How the sun had set early, the northern lights had shone and there had been hot chocolate by the fire with her father in the cabin.
He had read to her for hours, until her eyes were so heavy that he’d had to carry her to bed and tuck her in while the snowstorms had raged outside her window.
She’d been safe in her father’s arms.
“Come on, then,” Derek said, interrupting her thoughts as he jogged up the steps, not even offering to take her suitcase for her.
Evelyn cursed under her breath and lugged the case up, bumping it with each step. So much for her new luggage.
At the top Derek was waiting, and he was smirking. She wanted to wipe it off his face.
“You okay there?” he asked, a hint of humor in his voice.
“Perfectly,” Evelyn said through gritted teeth.
Derek opened the door and stepped inside. She dragged her suitcase in. The apartment was a mess.
Derek was annoyed. “Yeah, sorry about this. I forgot. Dr. Pearson is a bit of a slob.”
“It’s fine,” Evelyn said. She could clean it up, no problem. She was definitely not a fan of Dr. Pearson, though. First the jerk had left without waiting for her, leaving her to the mercy of Dr. Derek Taylor, and now this.
Derek handed her a key ring. “The clinic key is this large one and the other is the apartment.”
“Is there a car that’s available for me while I’m here?”
“Unless you drove one in from the ferry terminal that connects to Juneau then, no, but everything is in walking distance.”
She’d been hoping a car would be available because she wanted to see if her father’s place was still standing. She was wondering if it had changed. From going through what had been left to her after her grandmother had died, she knew that the property had been sold shortly after she’d left Wolf’s Harbor.
Grandma hadn’t want any part of Wolf’s Harbor. She hadn’t wanted any reminders of her son’s worst mistake.