Love Walks In(2)

By: Samantha Chase

Her expression softened. She reached out and cupped his cheek. “Sweetheart, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have some fun once in a while. It’s just…well, you didn’t call. You had no consideration for your family and our rules. I don’t think your father and I are strict, we don’t ask too much…”

“I know, Mom. But—”

“But,” she interrupted, “maybe next time you’ll think twice before being so impulsive.”

Hugh wasn’t so sure, but he kept it to himself.

“I’ll be back in a little while,” Lillian said. “Darcy’s finally sleeping so I want to get to the pharmacy and back before she wakes up. Quinn is staying after school and Riley and Owen will be home soon.”

Yeah, yeah…Hugh knew the drill. The schedule. No surprises.

Lillian walked out the door into the storm.

And never came home.

That wasn’t on the schedule, Hugh kept telling himself. It wasn’t something any of them were prepared for.

And it certainly wasn’t what any of them wanted.

For all the times he’d mocked the schedules and the routine and the flat-out boringness of their lives, right now Hugh would give everything he had to have it all back.

To have her back.

At five o’clock, he moved into the kitchen. Luckily no one was in there. Their guests had finally started to leave, and it was remarkably the one quiet room in the house.

“Hugh?” his father asked as he came into the room a few minutes later. “What are you doing?”

“Making dinner. It’s spaghetti night.”

Ian Shaughnessy stood with tears in his eyes as he watched his son get out the ingredients to make dinner. “Hugh,” he began, “there’s enough food out in the dining room to feed a small army. I don’t think we have to make dinner tonight.”

Hugh stopped and looked at him. “But…it’s Thursday. We always have spaghetti on Thursday.” He turned and pointed to the chalkboard his mother kept in the kitchen. “See? Thursday. Spaghetti.” Then he went back to getting out the large pot his mother used to cook pasta in.

He filled it and put it on the stove and when he turned back around, his father was right there in front of him. “Hugh…” he said gruffly, right before he wrapped his son in his arms.

Something inside of Hugh broke. “She always…”

“I know,” Ian said.

“She would want…”

“I know that too. But for tonight, we’ll let the menu slide.” He pulled back and smiled sadly. “Tomorrow will be soon enough to get back on track with dinners. Although I think we have about twenty casseroles overflowing from the freezer just in case.”

Hugh wiped away the tears streaming down his cheeks. “I just want…” He swallowed hard.

Ian stopped him. “I know, Hugh. I want it too.”

They stood there in silence for a long time, and Hugh decided then and there that he would honor his mother by doing things the way she wanted—he’d follow the rules. Never again would he act impulsively or without conscious thought.

He couldn’t afford to.

Not ever again.

Chapter 1

It was completely unacceptable.

“I don’t think I understand.”

Hugh Shaughnessy straightened the cell phone that sat on his desk until it was completely in line with the rest of the items there—all while keeping eye contact with his assistant Dorothy. “I said,” he began slowly, “it isn’t going to work for me. It’s unacceptable. Tell her no.”

Dorothy shifted nervously. “Um…I don’t think that’s an option, Hugh. You…you can’t exactly…” She hesitated, clearly trying to choose her words. “What I mean is, I don’t think you get a say in this.”

He arched a brow at her. “Really?”

“I could see if it was a request for time off or for vacation, but…”

“Technically, she is asking for time off,” he said reasonably.

“No. What she’s doing is quitting,” Dorothy stated in the same tone.

A sigh of frustration escaped before Hugh could stop it. He rose and crossed the office to stare out the open window. “Tell her we require a minimum of two weeks’ notice or else.”

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