If you are just coming across this – you can read the first two installments of this story at these links:
Rich stands by the side of the car soaking in the warm sunlight. This is his favorite part of his day, picking her up after school. Today as he waits to see her blonde pigtails bouncing through the throng of children stampeding down the steps, he lets himself feel hope. Hope for a bright future where fate would finally deal him a good hand to make up for all that had been his past few years.
Although he has to admit, from all the pain and chaos, Lucy has emerged. She was proof that no matter what happened and how bad things got, there is always a silver lining. Good can come from heartbreak and misery, heartbreak and craziness.
As the thoughts glide through his mind he looks up to see those beautiful green eyes and blonde hair. For just a moment his heart stops as his breath catches in his throat. For just a fraction of a moment, Lucy looked just like Her and Rich could have sworn it was another set of green eyes he was looking into. Eyes that had mesmerized him and set his heart to racing in equal measures of excitement, love and eventually fear.
A shadow falls across the sky as a cloud floats in front of the sun. Just a small shift, but enough to break the spell. Rick shakes his head to be rid of the memories as his daughter races towards him, throwing herself into his arms.
After he puts her down, he opens the back door of the car and asks, “How’s my angel today?”
Lucy was very excited for today. She was having trouble sitting still in her seat. Her dad looked back at her through the rear view mirror.
“You excited for the party?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “Sarah is going to have cake AND ice cream! And…” she took a dramatic pause, her eyes growing as big as saucers as she leaned forward slightly and said in a loud whisper, “she’s gonna have TWO bouncy houses!”
She sat back in her seat for a moment before leaning forward again.
“Did you remember the present daddy?”
“Of course, my princess! It is right here with me.” He pats the wrapped present in the passenger seat.
Lucy smiled. She should have known he would remember. He always remembered.
In the seat next to her Liam smiles and winks at her.
Thirty minutes later Rich is finally able to extricate himself from the horde of mom’s at Sarah’s party. Lucy had run into the party without a backward glance and he had felt his heart break just a little bit. However, this is what he wanted, he reminded himself. For Lucy to adapt to this new town and this new life, to make friends. And eventually he hoped the same for himself or at least to be comfortable and to trust again. He was happy Lucy was adjusting so well. Yet a part of him found it bittersweet.
As he turned to leave he felt two small arms wrap around his legs and he heard, “Bye Daddy! I’ll see you soon. Keep the moon for me.”
He smiled as he turned around and kissed the top of her head. He leaned down and whispered back to her, “Of course my Princess Star.”
She patted his cheek and then turned back to her friends. He watched her disappear into the group of squealing little girls.
On his way out he had been stopped no less than five times by moms who wanted to see how he was doing and if he needed anything. Apparently being a single father in this town brought out the nurturing side of these moms. Not that he did not appreciate it, but he always started to feel a bit smothered by the time he escaped. All of it was worth it though to see his little girl smile. And now he would go home and relax for a few hours before Sarah’s mom dropped Lucy off.
What was her name again? Oh yes, Amanda. Maybe he would have a beer to toast Amanda for giving Lucy such a fun day. He smiles as he starts the car and pulls away from the house.