"To Marty’s relief, the snow went north the way it sometimes did in early autumn. But after another sleepless night waiting for Jenny’s fever to break, she felt ready to drop. When the fever finally did leave, the child fell into a deep sleep. Wrapped in a quilt, Marty curled into her cricket rocker and dozed off. In the late afternoon someone knocked at the door. To her surprise, Dr. Brady waited on the cabin’s front porch, the collar of his flannel-lined denim jacket turned up against the wind that whistled through the lodge pole pines.
Marty quickly pulled open the door and let him in.
“Dr. Brady, are you lost?”
He shook off the cold and set down his black medical bag.
“Isn’t this Shadow Mountain?”
“Yes, of course, but why are you here?” Was Jenny’s illness more serious than he’d let on?
He saw her frown. “Not to worry. Just making some home visits. It’s something I worked out with the county when I started at the clinic. I know there are other folks up here that might have a problem getting into town.”
He glanced around the cabin, his perusal taking in the simple but cozy surroundings. His gaze rested on the piles of colorful quilt squares piled next to Marty’s sewing machine, then drifted to the sofa where Jenny slept snugly wrapped in the pink and turquoise quilt Marty had made when she’d first brought her niece home with her.
“How is she doing today? Did the fever break this morning?”
Marty set aside the quilt from around her shoulders and went to Jenny’s side. The doctor followed.
“Yes. How did you know?”
“It’s just the way this particular bug has been working on kids.” He felt the child’s forehead, then took out his stethoscope, warming the diaphragm before listening to her breathing through it. Jenny never stirred, and it was a relief to see her resting so much easier than the past few days.
“Lungs sound clear. She’s sleeping well. I’d say Jenny is on the mend. She’ll probably wake up famished. You’re an excellent guardian, Ms. Cutter.”
He turned and gave her that charming smile. The effect sent a zing shooting along Marty’s backbone and her knees went weak. For a moment she wavered, and then the doctor took her by the arm and led her to the rocker, pushing her gently to sit.
“Okay, open up.” He flicked on his flashlight and peered down her throat, touched a light hand to her forehead. “Are you feeling ill? No nonsense now.”
“It’s only that I haven’t slept well since Jenny’s been sick. Seriously, I’m all right, just tired.”
“Then it’s time you had a break. Doctor’s orders. Just tell me where you keep your coffee. I could use a good strong cup myself.” He shrugged off his jacket and hung it by the door.
“Sorry.” Marty said. “I don’t drink it. All I have is hot chocolate and herbal tea.”
He took the news with admirable stoicism. “Well, guess that will just have to do. I’ll make the best of it.”He put up the tea kettle. Marty admitted to herself that it felt good to sit here and let someone else make the tea. She watched Dr. Brady move about the alcove of a kitchen. He was tall and lean, with a rangy look to him. Crinkle lines etched the corners of his eyes. Definitely a man who spent a good deal of time outdoors."
From Autumn's Gold: A Patchwork Autumn
Tomorrow, look for an excerpt from October Spell.