Blaine grinned. "He's pulling our leg." She laughed. "Just one? Why not a bunch of islands? I think there's over three thousand off the coast of Maine."
"Just one. It's the place where your mother and I met as camp counselors, back in the day. Camp Kicking Moose."
He wasn't kidding. Cam glanced at Blaine and watched her smile fade. "Why, Dad? Why?"
"Because it's time for a change."
Maddie's mouth dropped open in an O. "I knew it." She looked at her sisters and covered her face with her hands. "Dad is dying."
"Whoa! Not dying! Not even close."
Cam squeezed her hands together, trying to stay calm. "Dad, what did the specialist say? What's wrong with your voice?"
"He had nothing new to say. Just like all the others. There's nothing he could figure out and nothing he could do to help. I promise. That's all." He slapped his hands on his knees. "But it was a fortuitous meeting. That specialist was the very one who told me about this island. The village— and that's a pretty nice word for it, more like a hodgepodge of buildings, plus the campground— well, the village is nearly bankrupt."
Blaine peered at him. "Were you under anesthesia when this doctor sold you the island? That might be grounds for malpractice."
"I was fully cognizant when I bought the island. And just to be clear, I bought the island from the camp owners, not from the doctor, who had no personal interest in the island. It only came up in conversation because I recognized a picture in his office. He went to camp there as a kid. When he told me it was up for sale, I couldn't resist calling the owners to find out more. When I heard the price they were asking, I snatched it up." He snapped his fingers. "Bargain-basement price."
Maddie gave a woeful shake of her head. "This is all about turning sixty, isn't it? You missed your midlife crisis in your forties, so you're having it now."
Cam wanted to scream. Her sister Maddie had just completed graduate work for a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, and although she had never been married nor had children, she considered herself adept at diagnosing others.
Oblivious, Maddie carried on. "It's a textbook case. Human beings can't miss stages of development. They'll circle back until it's dealt with." She paused, as if watching the effect of her words on everyone.
Dad's hands were clasped together on his lap. Cam saw them tighten involuntarily with Maddie's assessment. "I'm only fifty-nine. And no, this is not a delayed midlife crisis. This is something your mother and I had always wanted to do. Planned to do. Until . . ."
Blaine lifted her palms in disbelief. "You and Mom wanted to own an island? That's news to me."
"The camp part, that we had talked about. You know how much we loved that camp. Everybody loves summer camp."
"Not me," Blaine said. "I hated it."
No surprise there. Blaine hated everything.
Maddie looked at each one of them. "I think we should talk about Mom. We never do. You all pretend like it was a blip on the radar. Like it was no big deal. And now look what's happened."
Cam actually flinched. Maddie was wrong. It 'was' a big deal, but talking wasn't going to help.
Maddie steepled her fingers together. "So then, Dad, this is some kind of unfulfilled obligation for Mom. A fulfillment issue."
Dad wagged a finger in the air. "Not an issue, Maddie. No issues here."
Acting all counselor-y, Maddie leaned forward and looked gravely at each one of them. "Talking about it, just saying a few words, is often enough to help."
Oh boy. Here we go. Cam checked her watch. Cooper had warned her not to be late. Ever since he'd received a wristwatch for his seventh birthday, he'd become a taskmaster of time. "For now, let's stay focused on Dad's crisis."
"Not a crisis," Dad said.