And I just wanted to let everyone know that I just sent it out in the current newsletter – along with the latest installment of the Newsletter Novella.
If you’d like an early look at it, you can sign up for it by clicking the blue NEWSLETTER link. I’ll be sending out a duplicate copy in a day or so.
Until it’s released, here’s a scene I hope you’ll enjoy. Just remember, it’s the first draft and hasn’t been edited yet. 🙂
Oh yeah. Nolan’s book finally has a title. A Cool Summer in Paradise.
Hanging his black helmet from the hand grip, he headed off at a fast walk toward the back door of the clinic. It was almost eight. Magdalen would already be at the front desk, which meant a pot of hot coffee would be waiting, ready to warm him. He’d never admit it, but the reason he made a beeline for his thick, heavy mug wasn’t because he needed the caffeine. No, Coke would always be his beverage of choice for that. The coffee was because these early morning rides chilled him almost to the bone.
“Morning, Nolan,” Magdalen said, distracted. Her brows were drawn together in consternation as she looked at the computer screen.
“Good morning. Problems already?”
“There’s an email from Molly Beckett. It looks like you need to make a house call. I’m just trying to decide which of your patients can get away with seeing Nora today.”
Nora was a more than capable nurse practitioner, and because he still traveled to see those who had a hard time getting to the clinic, she often saw more of his patients at the clinic than he did. House calls were quickly becoming a thing of the past, but he did his best to keep the practice alive.
Take Keegan Scully, for instance. The man had lived a good long life, but had been diagnosed with stage four cancer about six months ago. He didn’t have long left on this earth, and there was no way Nolan would expect him to come in for regular office calls.
“Have you figured out when I’ll have time?”
“Yes…” she said, checking the appointment list one more time before looking up at him, a hint of a smile on her lips. “If you can go now, I think we’ll be good until ten-thirty. Will two hours be long enough?”
“I expect it will,” he said with a sigh, sitting his coffee in the microwave. It would have to wait.
“Stay warm,” Magdalen called, as he headed back out the way he’d come.
“Ha-ha,” Nolan muttered under his breath, but he didn’t really mind. Keegan didn’t live too far out of town, and the trees and rocks along the primitive dirt road would shelter him from much of the breeze blowing in from the Atlantic.
Yeah, he there was no doubt he missed the warmer weather they’d enjoyed in Michigan, but he wouldn’t trade his life for the world. He lived on a beautiful island with good friends, spectacular views, and an endless list of patients he wouldn’t willingly give up. Although, come February, when the temperatures plummeted back into the single digits and below, he’d be looking forward to his month-long trip to St. Croix.
The Scully cottage was in a state of disrepair, and Nolan felt sad as he approached it. Keegan’s only daughter, Molly, had married an Irishman and moved to Galway more than fifty years ago. She and her great-grandson had come to stay with him in his final weeks because he refused to be uprooted from the home he’d lived in for most of his ninety-six years.
Molly answered his knock almost immediately, making him wonder if she’d been standing at the window watching for his arrival. But then she was in surprisingly good health for a woman who was seventy if she was a day, and he wouldn’t be surprised if she’d been bustling about the small rooms tidying here and there.
“Thanks for coming so quickly,” she said, closing the door behind him. “He was in a lot of pain during the night. I don’t think the medicine is working anymore.”
“Then I’ll give him something that does,” Nolan promised, squeezing her shoulder. “Is he awake?” She nodded.
“I don’t think he slept more than a wink.”
“I’ll go sit with him.”
“Thank you, Dr. Campbell. Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“That would be wonderful, thanks.”
Little tufts of snow white hair had finally begun to grow back on Keegan’s mostly bald pate. This morning, they were sticking up like he was trying to impersonate a punk rocker, and Nolan figured – knowing the old man as well as he did – that he’d be proud of it too.
“So I hear you were out painting the town last night,” he teased, pulling a straight-backed chair up beside the bed.
“You know me,” Keegan said, his voice weaker than it had been just a few days ago. Nolan laid a gentle hand on his wrist, trying to be discreet as he checked his pulse, but there was no pulling the wool over his patient’s eyes.
“Not long now, is it?”
“I wouldn’t think so, no.”
“I’m not afraid.”
“I know you’re not. You’re one of the bravest souls I’ve ever known.”
And he was. Born during the Spanish influenza pandemic in 1918, Keegan had been a soldier in World War II. And until a hunter from the Soviet Union bagged a bigger one eleven years ago, he’d held the record for the largest, meanest grizzly ever killed on Castelorian soil. Apparently, death didn’t make him quake with fear any more than the bullets, bombs, or the bear had.
“There are some things I regret,” he said, staring out the window across from his bed.
“I expect most everyone will have at least a few when they reach the end.”
“I’m a stubborn man, Nolan Campbell. My Gael has been gone since Molly was but a wee lass, and I wouldn’t move to be closer to her. I didn’t see my grandchildren grow up because of it, or their children — and now their children’s children. I missed it all because I chose to stay bound to a house and the grave in the garden.”
“But you were happy here,” Nolan reminded him. “This was your home. And there were visits. I know you went to them for holidays, and they came here too.”
“It’s not the same as being there.”
“No, but the way I see it, you had the best of both worlds.”
Keegan seemed to consider that for a moment, then nodded his head slowly.
“Maybe I did. But now, when there’s so little time left, I wish I’d spent more of it with them. That is my only regret. When you’re preparing yourself to meet your Maker, you realize it’s the people in your life that matter. The living ones. Not the ones who are dead and buried.” He looked at Nolan again and reached out his hand. Nolan took it and held it gently. “Don’t ever forget that, Doc. It’s those who are alive and who care about you that matter. They’re all that ever will.”
“I’ll remember that,” he said, swallowing the lump that formed in his throat.
“You work too hard, Doc.”
Today, Nolan agreed with that assessment. It had been months since he’d flown home to visit his family on Coghlan. the smallest of the islands. He would have to schedule a trip. Soon.