It's the middle of the night and a child's night terrors have awakened the household...
Jack pressed into the shadows, certain his housekeeper would be embarrassed to be caught in her nightgown. Despite living under the same roof, sharing meals, chores, and children, the woman remained a mystery to him. There seemed to be no artifice about her, no pretense; and yet she'd revealed virtually nothing about her life before coming into his.
Had she always lived in Fishtown? Did she have family there? She'd never mentioned anyone other than the redneck scum she'd been living with, and only then because he'd pressed her.
While the sensible part of Jack pondered these things, another part told him that none of it mattered. He'd witnessed her gentle ministrations―the soothing caress of his troubled firstborn, the loving smile for his hyperactive, middle child, and the soft, cooing words to his baby―and a tightness gripped his chest.
At the county home, if anyone bothered to respond to a child's cry in the night, it was the night attendant with a growled admonishment to stop acting like a baby. There'd been rules to govern every aspect of life, from mealtime to playtime to bedtime. Lights out, no talking, no roughhousing, and no more trips to the bathroom.
Jack winced. Damned if that didn't sound like his own barked commands a few days earlier.