One Summer in Santa Fe - By Molly Evans
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
“YOU want me to what?” Dr. Taylor Jenkins asked his sister. He’d do anything for her. Except this. This was impossible and entirely beyond his abilities. He was a physician, not a—
“Please, Taylor. I’ve never asked you for anything. After all the things we’ve been through together. I need this.”
Caroline walked forward and placed her hand on his, her pale blue eyes begging. Pleading. Working on the guilt he strongly resisted. For so many years, guilt had ruled his life, and he had vowed long ago to elude its poison. No commitments, no guilt. It was that easy. He lived his life his own way, followed no one’s rules but his own.
“I can’t send him to Mom and Dad. You know that.”
“José? No. His father is off on weekend military camp and could be deployed at any time.” She waved that suggestion aside. “I can barely get him to take Alex one weekend a month. I couldn’t comfortably leave Alex with him for that length of time.”
“But…” Panic clawed up his throat and tried to strangle the life out of him. He was a well-respected professional. He would figure a way to get out of this situation Caroline was presenting him with. There was no way he could—
“You can do this. I trust you completely. And it’s only for six weeks, not forever. He’s old enough to be by himself some. I have babysitter names for you, too, and his cousins will want to see him over the summer. Carmelita’s been very helpful since I divorced José. She doesn’t want her kids to lose touch with him, despite her brother’s problems.” She stepped closer and kept her gaze locked with his.
Damn. Somehow, she sensed he was caving in. Women had an extra sense about those things and used them to their advantage against the men of the world. Resistance was futile. He was going to be assimilated.
Taylor hauled out a long sigh and placed a hand over his face as his shoulders slumped. He just knew he was going to regret this. The idea that he could care for a child, his nephew, for weeks at a time was preposterous. He simply didn’t have it in him to care for another living creature for longer than a few hours. He didn’t even have a plant or a fish in his house.
“I knew you would do it! He’s going to be so excited. Thank you, Taylor. Thank you. You don’t know what this means to me.” She hugged him and nearly bowled the two of them over. If he hadn’t leaned against the desk, they’d both be on the floor.
“You promise you’ll be back in six weeks, Caroline? Not a day longer?” Putting his life on hold for six weeks was about all he could cope with. By the end of it his tolerance would have run out.
“Yes, yes, yes. This is going to help me build a solid future for Alex and me. The company provides everything, so the only cost there is my food, but they absolutely refuse to allow children during the focus training session in California.” She took a deep breath. “It’s the only way I can do this. Believe me, I’ve thought of everything else.”
Sadness crept into her eyes, and Taylor knew he was doing the right thing for his sister. Just didn’t know if it was the right thing for him. His life was about freedom, about adrenaline, and physical challenges, testing himself, testing what he could accomplish after the next challenge was met. Would he have any time for his own life while he was caring for his nephew? If he’d wanted to be a parent, he could have been one by now.
“Anyway,” she said, and playfully slapped him on the shoulder, “it’s about time you got to know your nephew better.”
“I resent that. I know my nephew.” Didn’t he?
Caroline snorted and flung a few tears away from her face. She never cried. “You know his name, his birthday, and stuff like that. But you really don’t know the young man deep down inside him.” Again, she touched him. “Alex needs you right now. His father has let him down so many times that I don’t know if he’ll ever recover. Kind of like you in that way with Dad.”
“I know. I know.” Taylor thought of the times when his father hadn’t been there for him. Had been off doing something more important than getting to know his own