Hugh Regan tried Damon’s phone again. Where was his best pal slash wingman slash family doctor when he needed him most? Hugh’s father had told him about his knee pain when Hugh had visited him for their weekly dinner the night before. Since his father rarely complained, Hugh knew this was serious. For a moment, he wondered how Damon had missed it in his monthly visit that he conducted to all of Hugh’s family. Damon and his father had been Hugh’s family doctors ever since he could remember. Damon’s father, a well-respected primary care physician, ran a concierge medicine practice, and Damon had joined their family business as soon as he’d become a doctor himself.
Damon and Hugh had grown up together, Damon’s father having become a family friend, in addition to being their family doctor. Hugh, who had a sister but no brother, had grown up thinking of Damon almost as a sibling, so intertwined had their lives been up until that day.
Hugh shoved aside the thought that Damon had been remiss to have overlooked Hugh’s father’s knee pain. Damon’s father had retired a couple of years ago, and Damon had taken over his routine of doing monthly checks on all the members of Hugh’s family.
Hugh felt a pang of guilt for doubting Damon, even for a second. Damon was like a brother. If he’d missed Hugh’s father’s knee pain, it was likely due to Hugh’s father’s habit of hiding his ills and aches from everyone until it could no longer be kept a secret.
Hugh glanced at his phone. A part of him had felt certain that there’d be at least a text from Damon explaining why he hadn’t returned either Hugh’s calls or his texts since the night before. Hugh wondered if anything might have happened to Damon. It was so unlike him to leave Hugh’s calls or texts unanswered for a whole day.
Hugh sighed and shoved a file into his briefcase. He’d assumed he’d finish reading the agreement his Chief Operating Officer had put together for a new manufacturing unit. But he was tired, and the fact that Damon hadn’t gotten back in touch with him had left him a little worried. It was most likely nothing, thought Hugh. But he hoped Damon was alright. Although Hugh had been more busy than usual the whole day, he’d felt a prickling at the back of his head. A niggling sense that something wasn’t quite right. But he’d been busy, and hadn’t paid attention to the tiny sense of disquiet that was now growing rapidly, now that it was evening and his work could finally take a backseat.
Hugh had no idea what he’d do if anything were to happen to Damon. It simply didn’t bear thinking. The man was just far too important to his family, far too important to Hugh himself. Hugh decided to finally pay attention to the odd feeling of unease he’d been having by giving a call to Damon’s father to check if everything was alright.
His assistant knocked on the door of his plush, corner office in the stunning Regan Towers skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Hugh looked up to see his assistant Tim looking ashen-faced. Hugh felt a vein begin throbbing on his forehead. He just knew it was about Damon. Please God, prayed the usually-atheistic Hugh, let Damon be alright.
He said, “What is it, Tim? Everything okay?”
Tim looked at Hugh with round, panicked eyes and Hugh got up from his chair and went up to him.
“It’s Damon, isn’t it? Is he okay?”
Tim nodded and Hugh felt a surge of relief. “Well then, what is it?” he barked in exasperation.
Tim finally spoke, “Umm, Damon called, Hugh. He said you’d called him a bunch of times? Well, umm, he said, umm-”
“Get on with it, Tim,” Hugh said in a softer, but just as exasperated tone, “I don’t have time for this. Just spit it out, would you?”
Tim cleared his throat. The news was bad and he knew Hugh was going to hit the roof. But the only way out was through, so he said, “Damon has eloped with Savannah. They’re in Vegas right now. Damon says they’re married. He also said he would be unable to work for the next two weeks. Apparently, umm, they’re about to head for their honeymoon in Paris. Savannah messaged me too. She thought you’d be too upset to hear from her. She forwarded a picture of their chapel wedding.”
Tim showed Hugh the photograph Savannah had forwarded to Tim’s phone. It showed her in a daring, white gown, with a plunging neckline that left little to the imagination. She and Damon were kissing, with Damon’s hand resting on her butt.
To Tim’s relief, Hugh didn’t immediately begin shouting the way Tim had been sure he would. Although, you couldn’t have blamed him if he had, mused Tim, feeling sympathetic to his boss’s situation. Savannah was Hugh’s ex-fiancée after all, and Hugh had never really gotten over her. She’d broken off their engagement two months ago, saying she couldn’t bear being a distant second in Hugh’s life and that he was already married to his work.
Although outwardly Hugh had finally accepted her decision a month or so ago, Tim knew too well how much his boss was actually hurting. He also knew that Hugh had secretly hoped Savannah would come around. He’d still kept her name on the penthouse apartment they’d shared in the most premium part of Manhattan, although Hugh himself had moved out to give Savannah space to think about the future in peace, hoping she’d come around and tell Hugh that the break-up had been a mistake.
So much for that happening, thought Tim in trepidation. Hugh was a little too silent, which was wholly uncharacteristic of him. Hugh was a shouter at the best of times, Tim knew, so this silence didn’t bode well. It felt like the calm before the storm and Tim readied himself for the outburst he just knew was coming.
Instead, Hugh said, “Can you give me a minute, Tim? Actually, don’t wait around. It’s late already. Go home. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Tim glanced back at Hugh in surprise, not sure he’d heard it right. “Are you sure, Hugh?” He cleared his throat, “I mean, I have a bunch of things to finish. So, I’ll be right outside, if you do need me.”
He looked over at Hugh, who was hunched up on the couch in the corner of the room. After a few moments, Hugh nodded without looking up.
Tim felt a wave of pity for his boss. A proud man like Hugh had to be hurting right now, Tim knew. But he was just too proud to go to pieces in front of Tim. For all of Hugh’s notorious cantankerousness, he had a heart of gold, Tim knew, and an astonishing amount of resilience and independence. He had a quick temper, but it dissipated just as quickly, and the sheer big-heartedness he often showed all his employees more than made up for the occasional show of temper.
It was best to leave him alone for now, Tim mused, although he felt protective of Hugh too. He’d stay behind, Tim decided, in case his boss needed someone. He said softly, “I’m right outside, Hugh. My wife is out of town, so I’m not in any hurry to go home. If there’s anything I could do for you, please let me know.”
When Hugh didn’t respond, Tim left the room, shutting the door softly behind him.
‘The CEO’s Favorite Doctor: A Wholesome Romantic Comedy’ by Bhakti Mathew