But at least it would be for the last time. The last time he had to stand before Tom Sheppard,stiff as a soldier in front of a four-star general,waiting for some form of discipline
worse, one of his dad‟s long
Matt forced his shoulders to relax. “I was offered a job at a winery in Napa.”
What he left out was that he‟d applied for said job. And a dozen others. Anything to get as far
away from his hometown of Jewell, Virginia, and,more importantly, the Diamond Dust
—his father‟s beloved winery.
Tom took off his reading glasses and set them aside before slowly leaning back in his chair. Hiseyes
—the same green as Matt‟s—
narrowedon his youngest son. King of his domain, Matt thought snidely. Never did his dad feel more self-important than when he was sitting behind his huge,
mahogany desk in his oppressive office with its dark woodwork and leather furniture. Matt‟smother, Diane, stood to her husband‟s right, a hand on
his shoulder.They were, as always, a unit. One entity. Usually against him.
He tried not to fidget even though his dad stared at him as if trying to read his thoughts. They‟darrived home twenty minutes ago from Matt‟s
school graduation. And while he‟d
exchanged his dress clothes for his normal outfit ofcargo shorts and a T-shirt, his mom still had on her
sleeveless blue dress, her long, blond hair held back in a sparkly clip. His dad‟s tie was loose,
his shirtsleeves rolled up. His suit coat hung over thearm of one of the matching chairs behind Matt.
“You already have a job,” his dad finally said, the assumption being that because Matt was aSheppard, he‟d spend his last summer at the
Diamond Dust before starting college. That he‟d want to stay.
flipped his hair out of his eyes with a jerk of his head. “Yeah, I do.” Though he wanted tolook anywhere but at his father‟s stern gaze, he met
the old man‟s eyes. “In Napa. I start in two days.”
“Oh, Matthew,” his mom said, sounding disappointed. He grou
nd his back teeth together.Besides getting into trouble, he also excelled atdisappointing his parents.Was it any wonder he wanted to escape?
Tom straightened and leaned forward. “You accepted a job almost three thousand miles away
without bothering to t
ell us about it first?”
“I‟m eighteen,” Matt pointed out, unable to hide the defensiveness in his tone. “I don‟t need your permission.” He swallowed but the lump in his
throat remained. “When Brady was my age, he was already enlisted.”
“You‟re not Brady,”
Matt‟s hands shook. He slid them into his front pockets. “That‟s the problem, isn‟t it? I‟m notBrady. Or, better yet, Aidan. Right?”
“That‟s enough,” his mother insisted, her voice shaking. “We don‟t expect you to be like your
brothers and we
certainly don‟t compare you to
them, or them to you.”
Matt snorted. Maybe she didn‟t, but he knew what his father thought of him. He didn‟t measureup. Not to Tom‟s high expectations and certainly
not to either of his older brothers. Brady, a Marine, was serving their country overseas, andAidan, the eldest Sheppard son was heading to lawschool. Brady was quiet, reserved and already engaged to his high school sweetheart, the
gorgeous Liz Montgomery. Aidan was their father‟s
clone. Overbearing. Uptight. Co
ntrolling. He‟d make one hell of a lawyer.