Aubrey was curled up in bed with the TV remote, flipping through the channels, trying to find something to watch. Honestly, with hundreds of channels, it shouldn’t be this hard, she thought.
It was late for her. The eleven o’clock news was over and all of the late-night talk shows were starting up. It had been so long since she’d watched any of them, she wasn’t sure which channel to go to or what she’d find.
“Maybe I should read,” she muttered, looking around for her Kindle. She was a one-click addict—there had to be something on there to pique her interest. Shutting off the TV and reaching for the nightstand drawer, she let out a squeak of surprise when the phone rang. A slow smile crept across her face when she saw Hugh’s name on the screen.
“Hey,” she said softly, relaxing back onto her pillows.
“I didn’t wake you, did I?” Hugh asked.
“Nope. I was just sitting here trying to figure out what to do with myself. It was a toss-up between late-night TV and a book.”
“Book. Always go for the book. You’ll sleep better.”
She chuckled. “I’m not too sure about that. I found I sleep better when you’re next to me. And we didn’t read a single word.”
He groaned. “You’re killing me.”
“Okay, sorry,” she said. “So tell me how your first day at home was. Did you get to have dinner with everyone?”
“Oh…yeah,” he said sourly, and Aubrey knew something was up.
“Out with it, Shaughnessy. What’s going on?”
He told her about his father’s plans for the house and why he wasn’t particularly thrilled about it. “What about your brothers? Do they feel the same?”
“Hell no. They spent a good portion of the night telling me why I was wrong.”
She could hear the pout in his voice and her heart went out to him. “I’m so sorry. What can I do? Do you want to come here for a few days?”
“I do…but if I leave it’s just going to give them more ammunition.”
“You’re entitled to feel the way you feel, Hugh. They don’t have to agree with it or even like it, but you don’t have to change for them. Chances are they do things you don’t like or agree with. Right?”
He sighed. “What’s your point?” There was no animosity in his tone, only curiosity.
“Just because they think or do things differently than you, do you love them any less?”
“So don’t let this bother you. You’re probably the only one still thinking about it. Take this time to enjoy your visit with your father and your brothers. If they give you grief about it, just shake it off.”
“Easier said than done. And you should know that. Weren’t you on the receiving end of family grief only a week ago?”
Aubrey was quiet for a moment. “That’s different, Hugh. Your brothers aren’t being mean to you or belittling you for the sake of being cruel. They’re probably doing it more out of good old-fashioned sibling teasing.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.”
It still stung. “So,” she began cheerily, “what are your plans? Anything exciting?”
He outlined his plans to help his dad with the yard work, to see his brother Aiden’s house, and to look at some property for a potential new resort.
“Sounds like you’re going to have a lot to do.”
There was that tone again. “Hugh? Come on. There’s something wrong. I can hear it in your voice.”
He was silent for a long moment, and just when Aubrey thought she’d have to prompt him, he said, “I miss you.”
Her heart melted at his words. “You just saw me this morning,” she said quietly.
“I know, but this last week we’ve been around each other all the time. And now…now I wish you were here with me.”