Saylor whipped out the door. With a wink at Julie, Clark followed Saylor out. Nerves jostled in her, leaving her in a cold sweat. She stared at the door, building up her confidence, because she wasn’t sure she could look at Mason and tell him what was wrong.
“All right, the little hurricane left. What do you need to talk to me about?” Mason’s description of Saylor was spot on.
Taking a deep breath, Julie pulled her big girl panties up. She would tell him her concerns about Gunnar, then get on with getting prepared.
“It’s about Gunnar.” Her voice cracked. So much for showing confidence.
Mason’s forehead creased. “There’s a problem?”
“Yeah.” Julie took another deep breath and forged ahead. “I’ve dealt with Gunnar in the past. I’m just… I’m not sure I can be on the team with him. That I can trust him to be there when we need him.”
There. She’d said it. It was the truth, so why did guilt coat her mouth like she’d eaten a handful of bitter pumpkin berries?
Mason glanced down the hall toward the hangar, his jaw clenching as he thought. The silence stretched on, and Julie shifted on her feet. She should say something, explain the situation or take the words back. Yet, her cowardice won out, gluing her mouth shut.
Mason sighed, rubbed his hand across the back of his neck, then turned his gaze on her. “I’m sorry to hear that. And I hate to say this, but if you don’t think you can work with Gunnar, you’ll have to stay behind.”
She gaped at him, her veins flooding cold through her body. How could Mason pick Gunnar so quickly when she’d been working her tail off for the last four months?
“Julie, we need you on the team. We really do. You’ve been mushing for ages and your wilderness skills are amazing, plus you have a way about you that just calms the rest of us when we’re agitated.” Mason’s words should make her proud, but it just made her lightheaded. “But Gunnar and Sunny have been training hard all winter in the off chance something like this happened. His experience in the military, both in medical trauma and emergency situations, is a necessity. If something happens to Clark, none of us can do what Gunnar can. With the Reeves gone, we’d only have one medical expert. That’s a risk I just can’t take.”
He sighed, and she felt a stab into her chest. “I’m sorry, Julie, but if you can’t work with Gunnar, then you can’t go.”