Home > The Best of Us (Sullivan's Crossing #4)

The Best of Us (Sullivan's Crossing #4)
Author: Robyn Carr

Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way

to be happy is to make others so.

—Robert Green Ingersoll

1

ON THE FIRST really warm, dry day in early March, Dr. Leigh Culver left her clinic at lunchtime and drove out to Sullivan’s Crossing. As she walked into the store at the campground, the owner, Sully, peeked around the corner from the kitchen. “Hi,” Leigh said. “Have you had lunch yet?”

“Just about to,” Sully replied.

“Let me take you to lunch,” she said. “What’s your pleasure?”

“My usual—turkey on whole wheat. In fact, I just made it.”

“Aw, I’d like to treat you.”

“Appreciate the sentiment, Doc, but it’s my store. I can’t let you buy me a sandwich that’s already bought and paid for. In fact, I’ll make another one real quick if that sounds good to you.” He started pulling out his supplies. “What are you doing out here, in the middle of the day?”

“I wanted to sit outside for a little while,” she said. “It’s gorgeous. There are no sidewalk cafés in town and I don’t have any patio furniture yet. Can we sit on the porch?”

“I hosed it down this morning,” he said. “It’s probably dried off by now. Got a little spring fever, do you?”

“It seemed like a long winter, didn’t it? And I haven’t seen this place in spring. People around here talk about spring a lot.”

Sully handed her a plate and picked up his own. “Grab yourself a drink, girl. Yeah, this place livens up in spring. The wildflowers come out and the wildlife shows off their young’uns. Winter was probably long for you because everyone had the flu.”

“Including me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the spring babies. I got here last summer in plenty of time for the fall foliage and rutting season. There was a lot of noise.” She took a bite of her sandwich. “Yum, this is outstanding, thank you.”

“Hmph. Outstanding would be a hamburger,” he groused. “I’m almost up to burger day. I get one a month.”

She laughed. “Is that what your doctor recommends?”

“Let me put it this way—it’s not on the diet the nutritionist gave me but the doctor said one a month probably wouldn’t kill me. He said probably. I think it’s a lot of bullshit. I mean, I get that it ain’t heart-healthy to slather butter on my steak every day, but if this diet’s so goddamn healthy, why ain’t I lost a pound in two years?”

“Maybe you’re the right weight. You’ve lost a couple of pounds since the heart attack,” she said. She had, after all, seen his chart. When Leigh was considering moving to the small-town clinic, she visited Timberlake to check out the surroundings. It was small, pleasant, clean and quiet. The clinic was a good urgent care facility and she had credentials in both family medicine and emergency medicine—she was made to order. It was owned and operated by a hospital chain out of Denver so they could afford her. And she was ready for a slower life in a scenic place.

When she first arrived, someone—she couldn’t remember who—suggested she go out to Sully’s to look around. People from town liked to go out there to swim; firefighters and paramedics, as well as Rangers and search-and-rescue teams, liked to hike and rock climb around there, then grab a cold beer at the general store. Sully, she learned, always had people around. Long-distance hikers came off the Continental Divide Trail right at the Crossing. It was a good place to camp, collect mail, restock supplies from socks to water purification kits. That’s when she first got to know Sully.

She had looked around in June and moved to Timberlake the next month. She might have missed the spring explosion of wildflowers but she was in awe of the changing leaves in fall and heard the elk bugle, grunt and squeak in the woods. It took her about five minutes to fall in love.

“What have you done?” her aunt Helen had said when she visited the town and saw the clinic.

She and her aunt lived in a suburb of Chicago and Leigh’s move was a very big step. She was looking for a change. She’d been working very long hours in a busy urban emergency room and saw patients in a small family practice, as well. She needed a slower pace. Aunt Helen wasn’t a small-town kind of woman, though she was getting sick of Midwestern winters.

They were the only family either of them had. Leaving Helen had been so hard. Leigh had grown up, gone to college and medical school and had done her residency in Chicago. Although Helen traveled quite a bit, leaving Leigh on her own for weeks or more at a time, Leigh was married to the hospital and had still lived in the house she grew up in. But Leigh was thirty-four years old and still living with her aunt, the aunt who had been like a mother to her. She thought it was, in a way, disgraceful. She was a bit embarrassed by what must appear as her dependence. She’d decided it was time to be an adult and move on.

She shook herself out of her memories. “Such a gorgeous day,” she said to Sully. “Nobody camping yet?”

“It’ll start up pretty soon,” he said. “Spring break brings the first bunch, but until the weather is predictably warm and dry, it ain’t so busy. This is when I do my spring-cleaning around the grounds, getting ready for summer. What do you hear from Chicago?”

“They’re having a snowstorm. My aunt says she hopes it’s the last one.”

Sully grunted. “If we’d have a snowstorm, I wouldn’t have to clean out the gutters or paint the picnic tables.”

“You ever get a snowstorm this late in the year? Because I thought that was a Midwestern trick.”

“It’s happened a time or two. Not lately. How is your aunt? Why hasn’t anyone met her yet?”

“She made a couple of very quick trips last fall. I wasn’t very good about introducing her around. Besides patients, I didn’t really know a lot of people yet. She’s planning to come here this spring, once she finishes her book, and this time she’ll stay awhile.” Leigh laughed and took another bite of her sandwich. “That won’t cause her to leave the laptop at home. She’s always working on something.”

“She always been a writer?” he asked.

“No. When I was growing up, she was a teacher. Then she was a teacher and a writer. Then she was a retired teacher and full-time writer. But after I finished med school, she grew wings. She’s been traveling. She’s always loved to travel but the last few years it’s been more frequent. Sometimes she takes me with her. She’s had some wonderful trips and cruises. Seems like she’s been almost everywhere by now.”

“Egypt?” Sully asked.

“Yep. China, Morocco, Italy, many other places. And the last few winters she’s gone someplace warm for at least a couple of months. She always works, though. A lot.”

“Hmph. What kind of books?”

Leigh grinned. “Mysteries. Want me to get you one? You have any aspirations to write the tales of Sullivan’s Crossing?”

“Girl, I have trouble writing my own name.”

“I’ll get you one of her books. It’s okay if it’s not your thing.”

“She been married?”

“No, never married. But that could be a matter of family complications. My mother wasn’t married when I was born and the only person she had to help her was her big sister, Helen. Then my mother died—I was only four. That left poor Aunt Helen with a child to raise alone. A working woman with a child. Where was she going to find a guy with all that going on?”

Sully was quiet for a moment. “That’s a good woman, loses her sister and takes on her niece. A good woman. You must miss her a lot.”

“Sure. But...” She stopped there. They had been together for thirty-four years but they ran in different circles. “We never spent all our time together. There were plenty of separations with my education and her travel. We shared a house but we’re independent. Aunt Helen has friends all over the world. And writers are always going to some conference or other, where she has a million friends.”

But, of course, she missed Helen madly. She asked herself daily if this wasn’t the stupidest thing she’d ever done. Was she trying to prove she could take care of herself?

“Well, I suppose the waiting room is filling up with people.”

“Is it busy every day?” he asked, picking up their plates.

“Manageable,” she said. “Some days you’d think I’m giving away pizza. Thanks for lunch, Sully. It was a nice break.”

“You come on out here any time you like. You’re good company. You make turkey on whole wheat a lot more interesting.”

“I want you to do something for me,” she said. “You tell me when you’re ready for that hamburger. I want to take you to lunch.”

“That’s a promise! You don’t need to mention it to Maggie.”

“We have laws that prevent talking about patients,” she informed him, “even if she is your daughter and a doctor.”

“That applies to lunch?” he said. “That’s good news! Then I’ll have a beer with my hamburger, in that case.”

* * *

“Hey, boss,” Eleanor said when Leigh walked in. “We have a few appointments this afternoon and then the usual walk-ins. Did you have a nice lunch?”

“Excellent,” she said. “Spring is coming fast! There are buds on trees and green shoots poking out of the ground.”

“Rain in the forecast,” said Gretchen.

Leigh had two assistants, both RNs. Eleanor was about fifty years old, maternal and sweet-natured, while Gretchen was about thirty, impatient and sometimes cranky. They were both perfectly efficient. Both of them were excellent nurses. They’d known each other for a long time but Leigh got the impression they weren’t friends outside of work. Frankly, Leigh wondered if anyone was Gretchen’s friend.

   
Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Sunrise on Half Moon Bay
» Instant Karma
» Supernova (Renegades #3)
» Renegades (Renegades #1)
» Archenemies (Renegades #2)
» The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1)
» The Rise of Magicks (Chronicles of The One
» Love Your Life
» Christmas Shopaholic (Shopaholic #9)
» Among the Beasts & Briars
» The Ippos King (Wraith Kings #3)
» Dragon Unleashed (Fallen Empire #2)