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For the next half hour he listened to the doctor speak about chances and percentages. But by the time they walked out, he felt the first stirrings of hope.

“You all right about this surgery being scheduled for next week?” he asked his ma once they were in the car again.

“I don’t see how I have a choice.” She sat in the backseat, holding a bottle for Lyric. The baby’s snorting noises as she sucked filled the space.

“No, but it’s good news. We’re kicking the cancer’s ass.” He glanced at her before turning out of town for the road leading to Needle’s Pass.

“I relish the thought.” His ma’s voice was more like her familiar tone.

He grinned. “What do you think about spending the afternoon alone? You’ll be okay?”

“Sure.” She stared at his profile until he swung his head to look at her. “You thinking of taking a trip?”

“Yes. Lyric and I want to visit an old friend.”

His ma made a noise. “Lyric’s been missing that friend, I think.”

The corner of his mouth twitched up. Excitement wove through him at the idea of driving back to Reedy and setting eyes on the beautiful woman who haunted him.

His smile spread over his mouth and up to his eyes. He nodded. “Been thinkin’ that myself.”

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