Liz took Hugh’s hand and said to the couple, “Congrats on the baby.”
Savannah refused to look at Hugh but gave Liz a tiny nod, “Thank you.” They glided away as Liz looked on, thinking Damon was laying it on a little thick by being a little too solicitous all the way to their table, which, thankfully, was too far away for them to be in one another’s line of sight. With friends like these, thought Liz, and she gazed sympathetically at Hugh.
Hugh’s face was ashen. Liz held on to his hand, squeezing it. She said softly, “I think we should leave, Hugh.” Hugh nodded, and they made their way to Hugh’s car.
Liz said, “Give me the keys, I’ll drive.”
Hugh gave her his car keys without another word. They drove in silence for a while. Liz said, “I don’t think you should be alone tonight, Hugh. I’m taking you to my place. I’m going to ring Kelly and ask her to pick you up.”
Hugh stayed silent. Liz gave him a worried glance. But they soon reached her apartment. She led the way. Opening the door to her apartment, she ushered Hugh to the couch and said, “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be back in a minute.”
She glanced back as she walked into her bedroom, intending to give Kelly a call. Hugh was worrying her a little. He hadn’t said a word. But he looked like he’d been hit by a truck. She kept him in her line of sight as she spoke to Kelly over the phone.
A few minutes later, she offered Hugh a cup of water and a pill, “Take this, Hugh. It’ll help you sleep soundly tonight. You need to just rest for a while, without thinking and mulling. I just spoke with Kelly. We thought it’s best that you spend your night here where I can, umm, monitor you. She’ll pick you up in the morning.”
Hugh took the pill and downed it with a gulp of the water. He returned the glass without looking at Liz, but he murmured, “Thank you, Liz, for everything.”
Liz placed a hand on his shoulder, “Please don’t thank me. You’ve had a rough evening.” She moved away, “I’m going to get you a comforter. Sleep well, Hugh.”
Liz brought out the comforter. Hugh was lying down on the couch, fully-dressed, his arm shielding his eyes. She draped the comforter over him in silence, and whispered, “Good night, Hugh.”
She walked back quietly to her bedroom. She’d keep the door open, she decided. The sleeping pill would ensure Hugh would be asleep within minutes, but the state he was in, she didn’t want to risk not being able to check on him easily through the night. It was a good thing she could keep him in her line of sight from her bed, she mused.
She switched on her table-lamp, and picked up the book on her night stand.
Liz woke up several times during the night to check on Hugh. But fortunately, he’d slept well. In the morning, she woke up with a start when sunbeams began dancing through the curtains in the bedroom. She checked the clock. It was 8 a.m. Liz rushed to the living room.
She walked in to find Hugh tying his shoe laces. He lumbered up to her and gave her a bear hug, not quite meeting her eye. “Thanks for everything, Liz. I mean it. You’re awesome. I’m fine now. I’ll be out of your hair in a minute.”
Liz’s eyes widened as she leaned forward to catch Hugh’s eye. “Wait, don’t go. Kelly will be here to pick you up.”
Hugh glanced at her briefly, “I’m fine now, Liz. I promise. The sleeping pill helped. I need to be alone. Please, don’t get offended. I’ll be fine. I’ll call Kelly from the car and tell her I’ve already left.”
Liz continued to stare at Hugh, unsure of what to do. But Hugh was out of the door within seconds. Liz rushed to her phone to call Kelly.
“Kelly, hey, I’m just calling you to tell you that Hugh just left. He wouldn’t listen to me when I told him to wait for you.”
Liz spoke to her for a few minutes, then hung up. Kelly said she’d go to Hugh’s place to check on him. Liz exhaled. Hugh needed time alone and she needed to respect that. Besides, thought Liz, she had a job to go to.
‘The CEO’s Favorite Doctor: A Wholesome Romantic Comedy’ by Bhakti Mathew